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Ground Water Problem on Bryant Ave

Original post made by A. Mayor, Old Palo Alto, on Jun 1, 2011

Since Nov 2010, a very large pipe snakes out of the major construction site on Bryant Ave between Rinconada and Santa Rita, halfway down the block along the curb beside the Baptist Church, and dumps a continuous, gushing stream of water into the drain to Matadoro Creek.
No construction has taken place since last fall, when the workers digging an ususually deep basement breached the ground water table under this neighborhood. The construction company received a permit 8 months ago from Palo Alto city to "pump the ground water" to the storm drain. No work has been done and the water appears to be constant flowing at great volume as though it is an underground river. Water is also leaking around the long pipe along the gutter.

We live a block away on Emerson St and we and other neighbors are concerned about this situation. How and when will the flowing water be stopped? Does the loss of that much water volume destabilize the ground? Did the city issue a permanent permit to "pump" the ground water from a construction site where work has apparently halted for months?

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Posted by A Mayor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 1, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Talked with the water inspector for Palo Alto. The construction workers at 2061 Bryant Ave are digging a 20 foot deep basement and struck an underground "river" which must be "de-watered" before they can continue. They received a permit to "de-water" by diverting this "river" to the Palo Alto sanitary water supply for June to Oct 2010. The gushing water had to be diverted to the Matadoro Creek storm drain in winter. In Oct 2010 they renewed the permit to "de-water" the site, that permit ends Oct 2011. The workers need to put down many layers of very heavy concrete reinforced with rebar to exert enough weight over the groundwater to keep if from bursting through into the new home. This work is supposed to be completed by
August or Sept 2011, or else they will re-renew the permit to continue trying to "de-water" the site.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 1, 2011 at 1:08 pm

This issue was covered extensively by the Weekly last November.

Web Link
Web Link


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Posted by Josh
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 2, 2011 at 10:26 am

Yes, the issue has been ongoing since last fall, with no end in sight. A lot of water wasted while everyone else attempts to reduce water use.

Why does the city give permits to dig 20 foot deep (2 story) basements in locations with such a vast water table?


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 2, 2011 at 4:14 pm

I am confused about basements and pumping water.
I thought we in Duveneck are forbidden by the city to dig basements because of the high water table. Sounds like they sure have that in this case - why are they permitted to put in the basement?
If it means continuous pumping, wouldn't that have an effect on neighbors? - or is it "only" a construction-time issue? I am not talking about the "waste" aspect. What happens if next winter is horrendously rainy (always a possibility) and they need to continue pumping in those conditions?


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